tv Tavis Smiley PBS October 8, 2010 1:00pm-1:30pm PST
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, our conversation with actor and author jamie lee curtis. she has a new film called "you again." new book for children called "my mommy hung the moon." we are glad that you joined us. our conversation with jamie lee curtis, coming up right now. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is happy to help tavis improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side.
>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: a quick note, we recorded our conversation with jamie lee curtis just prior to the news about her father. tony curtis passed away last week at the age of 85. pleased to welcome jamie lee curtis back to this program. she has a new book for children called "my mommy hung the moon." it is already at the top of "the
new york times" bestseller list. also she has a new film, "you again." >> you knew how badly i wanted to be sandy, but you had to audition. >> i always wanted to be in the musical "ramona," always. >> please, you don't even sing. you don't think about me. >> what was i supposed to do, slow down so you could catch up? >> ah! >> used all him from me! tavis: it has come to this. >> i went on ebay and i had
bought her the picture of joan collins and linda evans having the legendary "dynasty" pool fight. i thought that was a nice present for her. i am a big ebay bair. i go on there a lot. >> so the money she spent on the race came from you? >> honestly -- tavis: $120 million of her money so far. >> she must want it really, really bad. tavis: that is a lot of money out of your own pocket. >> that is a lot of money. tavis: maybe not for you, but it would be for me. >> yeah, because i at $120 million? if i had that money, it would be the curtis children's hospital. tavis: you would do something
like that? >> if i had that kind of money, yes, i would do that. and honestly, the fact more people who don't do have that kind of money shocks me. it shocks me, the kind of change they could make with that kind of wealth is profound. and here we are in the worst economy. my daughter is a graduate from college, trying to find a career in a market where there are none. believe me, i think the $120 million -- there are a lot of fine -- lot of families would like that kind of help. tavis: speaking of families and children, great segway. thank you. -- great segue, thank you. i love the title, "my mommy hung the moon." you have gotten into this. >> i am in his own right now. tavis: you love doing this and you are good at it. >> i did not know i was going to
do it, but i do it truly out of my heart. i don't think about things. i never thought in a million years i would be successful at it. i did not have a fantasy i would sell a lot of books, that it would make me money. make me money? i had no idea. what i knew as i had something in my head, and i am guessing, for lack of a better word, it is art. i am and horror movies and bad sex comedies. it is hard to say that i do art. you know what i mean? i am being honest. there are great film artists. i am not one of them. i am an actor in entertainment. the idea i have something that is a creative process that comes out of me with no filter or expectation, that is the closest definition of art that i have that comes out of me. tavis: you just said three
things that i have to look at. you say, with candor and humility and honesty that kind of hit me, i am an actor, i am not an artist. most people in this business don't want to be self- deprecating in that way. everybody wants to make you think they are a thespian of the highest order. >> but i am not. tavis: you are comfortable with that. am i am not, i have never been, and i am not pretending to be. she has the credentials and background and the study and the body of work that is as impressive as any actor ever will have. she is an example of the art form at its highest. i am an entertainer. i am flat out an entertainer. i don't is self-deprecating. i think it is truthful.
i am one of those people, i looked in the mirror, i am looking at the problem, the solution, and the truth. the mayor does not lie. i know who i am as a performer, as a mother, as a friend, and i make adjustments within it. i am never going to make the adjustment that i am a great thespian because i don't have that skill set. tavis: it sounds to me like it is that kind of honesty that allows you to do this well. i wanted to pose the question, why you think you are so good at this? i think i just got my answer. if you are comfortable and honest with yourself, what comes out of you is truth. i think what comes from a heart ultimately reaches the heart. >> i agree with you, and i come from a child's point of view. tavis: you are saying you are childish? >> i think i am wildly immature, and i have actually thought
about it. my parents were married. my father is a fantastic performer, a great entertainer, wonderful dad when i was a little girl. and he'd left when i was a little girl. when i was just this age. somehow that although one paper there is no trauma, my mom got remarried, there are a lot of pictures of the smiling, my sister and i were dressed as twins, even though we are three years apart, ultimately, i think it was traumatic. this was not like, ok, call the doctor. it is just self knowledge. i think it was traumatic, and i think that is why i write books for 4-year-old. somehow my world got rocked at 4
and now talk about it in the way to do it is to talk about moods and feelings, letting go, a book about imagination, and ultimately a book about mother love. why i write those books, me, a woman who is famous for her breasts and her ability to scream, ultimately i think the reason i write meaningful, emotional books for children is because somehow my world got rocked. not somehow, my world got rocked. tavis: what do you mean by mother love? >> i mean the bond, the imprint of a mother to which child. there is no more powerful love in the universe and the imprint of a loving mother to that child. -- and the imprint of a loving mother to that child. i think i had it to a degree,
and i think i long that would agree, and i think it is why i write books that are successful for young children, with no educational background. but i like to do book readings and i like to remind my group of people who are coming out to see me that i got 840 combined on my s.a.t. then they laugh, and i say, "combined." tavis: we are not that far apart. >> we were raised in an era when thoseumbers meant something. the idea now that i have sold 5.5 million books for children with virtually no credentials to do so is good. it is great. tavis: how do you grade yourself on the journey that you have had to navigate as a child, growing up in this business, in
this town? a lot of people who fail miserably at that, yet here you are now, a perennial "new york times" best-selling author, and you have made it. how do you process that? >> i have made a lot of mistakes, and i have had the good grace, god's grace to have the mistakes, see them, recognize them, and change. right away, i had the ability to change the course of my life a couple times. i think there are lessons from our parents. i grope around it showed a business -- show business -- i grew up around show business and i saw what happens to film stars when their career ends and i have seen the terrible sadness, that loss of attention that a film star of the magnitude of my parents and the community of my
parents's friends, who had an absolute golden moment of stardom, and then they have lost it. i think that' there are lessons to learn watching that, and i have learned them. so i will get out of show business before show business asks me to leave. tavis: how will you know when that time arrives? it is not now, but how will you know? >> the fog is lifting very quickly. i remember going to see a movie -- i want even say who it was. he was a great actor, gorgeous, just knock you over. i remember the first time he came on screen, i remember the "und of the audience,
really?" we are getting close. digital film is not kind to women over 50. tavis: you are still hot, jamie. >> i am lit well here, i am in a controlled environment. you have to remember, i am not acting here. i am just me, sitting with you, such a lovely person to sit with. ultimately, it is one of the great lessons i have learned, being the daughter of famous people and living in a community of people. tavis: whether one likes it or loathe sot barack obama as president, nobody argues that the country has to course correct. we are wrong in so many ways and we have to course correct. we can debate that, but we have to chris -- course correct.
in our own lives, as individuals, we have to course correct. i raise that because you admit that you have made mistakes and you have been able to get it back on the right track a few times. without going into detail, talk to me about how one comes to terms with the fact that he or she has to course correct. >> often, people have that course correction foisted on them with consequences of their behavior. we, as a country, are having the consequences of foisted upon us because of our hubris as a country, environmentally, economically, spiritually. we have to course correct. i am not a politician, and i don't play one on tv. i met actor -- i am an actor. i go back to the mirror. the mirror does not lie. when you are staring at the
mirror, you are looking at the problem. the problem resides in you. you can change anything that you want. you can be in line whenever you get enlightened. -- you can be and wind it whenever you get enlightened. he could read a book, go to church. we are a country that is poisoning ourselves. we are country of functional illiterates. we have to change our educational criteria. and i understand that some energy is being put towards that. education is the number-one issue. because we have already effed it up. we have already been on it. it will not course correct in our lifetime. that kind of course correction, where education is first, spirituality, health -- chris
and i watched the documentary about the food that we eat, and where it comes from. and what was most interesting in the dialogue about meat and meat production and the fact that they are feeding cows corn, which they're not designed to eat -- they are designed to eat grass -- and all of the ramifications of that, the thing that is most interesting is that walmart is now offering organic milk simply because their constituents, their customers said we want organic milk. at that to me is how you change. but it has to come from us. tavis: you talked about spirituality. what that says to me if you have come to a place in your life where that journey has brought you to a place where you are comfortable uttering that word a few times in a public
conversation. >> spirituality is individual. i am not a churchgoer. i don't think that spirituality and god reside in a building. i believe that it resides inside of us, and it resides in some belief of something bigger than me. i am not the boss. you saw me. use all me taking stuff off the wall in the hall. -- you saw me taking stuff off the wall in the hall. what i have learned is i don't have a spiritual token, i don't have a spiritual icon that i would address and introduce you to, but i know that something --
something -- is in my life that i don't really understand. and i am not sure i will ever understand spirituality, but i understand the profound change in my life. and that acceptance and that desire for something bigger than me to basically -- it takes control of my life so i am spot being so bossy. -- so i stop being so bossy. tavis: i'm wondering if adults to buy these books for their children are still raising their children with a basic sense of the difference between what is right and what is wrong, or have we again gone so far off course that we don't understand any more or accept that there is a distinction between what is right and acceptable in society and what is wrong and unacceptable. >> well, it is a parent's job to
determine what is right and wrong, according to their values, and in part that to their children. and we have sadly gone off course with the profound inundation of media and technology and a creepy crawler vine of solidarity and profanity -- of fauquier ready and profanity and bottom feeder sex sells. i was in eighth grade, doing a report on american history. we did oral reports. i was doing a report on the left for college. i walked up and wrote the word "sex" on the blackboard. all the kids laughed. i said, "good, now that i have
gotten your attention --" this is when i was 12, in public education. tavis: by the way, if you could ever explain to me -- >> my point being it is out there. i think it is a parent's job to take it back. i think parents are allowed to say what is appropriate and inappropriate, right and wrong, according to them. that is why god invented this. you are allowed to make a different choice and i respect your different choice, but in my house, this is the rule. the problem is the pressure out there right now is everywhere. the fact everybody has media right in their hand all the time is very difficult i think for families to protect their children. tavis: in my house, the rule is you cannot take my pictures off the wall. >> i know that you can tip that down. there is betty white, a good
friend of mine. talk about a great example. she had the love of her life. she loved animals. this is a woman who is the reason why there are animal laws on movies, because of betty white. because her first tv show had animals and she said i don't want to be restored -- i like to be responsible for an animal. my second one, my good friend jim cameron, king of the world. he gave me the greatest opportunity i ever had to be in the movies. that is the closest thing to me being a really good actor that i think i'll ever get to do. "true lies"allowed me to actually hang out jamie lee curtis and throw on the character. it was fabulous about it was the split.
her incredulous this with her husband, and then that she is now married to a spy. it was such an amazing experience for me as an actor, even though was hard on my family. tavis: turn that around. >> i know exactly why you did. tavis: i didn't say that. >> here is the thing -- tavis: my man. >> you don't understand. tavis: you don't understand, jamie lee. >> you don't understand how important this human being is -- first of all, it is not just the sound track of my life. when i die, him singing, "walked down that lonely road" will be playing at my funeral.
he is the greatest musical artists i have ever heard in my life. i had the pleasure of hearing him sing at the hollywood bowl this summer, five months ago. he is the finest musician i have ever heard in my life. i have every single piece of music he ever produced. tavis: i love you and respect you too much to fight with you. i will let you win this. >> i am the biggest james taylor fan. tavis: you don't know how much tavis flubs james taylor >>. > no, no, no. tavis: the guest is always right. >> do me a favor. at some point, maybe when you are doing a holiday show or something, just put on his album. if you want to get people talking about a song, about the
loss of a human life or that person is a machine for somebody who shall never meet the person who owns the label of the clothes that she makes every day, that song, which he credits himself as the greatest song he has ever written, that sends me over every single time. he is the greatest musical artist i have ever heard in my life, and he was on your wall. i am besotted with him. i am just saying. tavis: i will let jamie win tonight. >> there is no bigger james taylor fan than me. tavis: stop saying that. you are rubbing it in. jamie lee curtis, one of james taylor's biggest fans, as a new book out called "my mommy hung the moon." and she has a new movie, "you
again." i would be happy to say that you any day of the week, with love. anytime you want to come back. >> thanks for having me. it is nice to have a place where you can actually talk about things. tavis: you are welcome any time. >> i enjoyed you. tavis: good night. keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time with oscar- nominated actor edward norton. that is next time. we will see you then. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes.
>> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] captione national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org--